The Interview

The Interview

Brendan Wolfe
Brendan Wolfe

February 7th, 2010, 12:10 am #1

While working this weekend on the chapter of "Finding Bix" about Bix's famous interview with the Davenport Sunday Democrat eighty-one years ago, I discovered some material that once and for all should settle the question of whether Bix actually said all those fancy things that the anonymous interviewer claimed he did.

Hint: Not.

Read more here:

http://beiderbecke.typepad.com/tba/2010 ... rview.html
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 7th, 2010, 1:44 am #2


I need some time to digest all the material. A useful contribution would be to eliminate from the Bix interview all that is obviously plagiarized and see what is left.

Albert
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Brendan Wolfe
Brendan Wolfe

February 7th, 2010, 2:00 am #3

From what I can tell -- and no, I haven't methodically charted it all out -- the only section that is likely to contain Bix's actual words is the last one, appropriately titled "We Want More!"
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Jamaica
Jamaica

February 7th, 2010, 6:23 am #4

Annoying. I, at least, thought, "Obvious enough to make a dog laugh." came from Bix! Damn! We don't know this guy at all!

I will add, though, that I bristle, whenever I hear people say, "Bix wasn't educated enough, to use language like that." Bull! He was a very well-read, intelligent young man. One does not need an extraordinary academic record, in order to speak intelligently. Bix loved books; both Trumbauer, and Bill Challis, commented on how well-informed Bix was, and how perfectly capable he was, of carrying on conversations, on any number of different subjects. He obviously educated himself further, after his schooling, through reading. While we're on this subject, most people in Bix's time, were lucky to have an eighth grade education, which served most of them very well, throughout their lives. He was better educated than the average person in his time, and even so, public schools certainly had a tougher curriculum, K-12, than they do now. I wouldn't be surprised if Bix, even as a high school drop-out, was better educated than most high school graduates today. He certainly seemed to have more going on, between the ears, than quite a few college graduates running around out there today.

Anyway, very interesting find, Brendan, but depressing as well. No wonder so many people made up stories, facts about, and quotes from Bix.... there's so little from which to draw a portrait .

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Bob Spoo
Bob Spoo

February 7th, 2010, 6:46 am #5

While working this weekend on the chapter of "Finding Bix" about Bix's famous interview with the Davenport Sunday Democrat eighty-one years ago, I discovered some material that once and for all should settle the question of whether Bix actually said all those fancy things that the anonymous interviewer claimed he did.

Hint: Not.

Read more here:

http://beiderbecke.typepad.com/tba/2010 ... rview.html
Terrific discovery, Brendan! Now that we know that many of the words attributed to Bix were lifted from other sources, perhaps the whole interview is cast into doubt. But to the extent that the last section of the article might reflect some of Bix's actual words, my interest hovers about the locution, "movie-shy." A couple of years ago on this list, we kicked the possible meanings around, without resolution. Perhaps it has been explicated since, but, if not, here is a possible ray of light.

The U.S. Copyright Office's Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 3, Volume 21 (1927), page 691, has an entry for a musical composition entitled "Movie Shy," words and melody by J. Tally, deposit copy received June 26, 1926, registration number E 644012. The entry also includes the following: "John Tally, Chicago, 13626."

I stumbled across this by doing a search on Google Books for the phrase "movie shy." Alas, what I retrieved was only a small fragment of the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, but enough to encourage some research, perhaps. Maybe the song or its lyrics have some connection with Bix's life or thinking at the time--or maybe this is just another borrowing by a reporter who never met a phrase he didn't like enough to plagiarize.
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Alberta
Alberta

February 7th, 2010, 12:46 pm #6

While working this weekend on the chapter of "Finding Bix" about Bix's famous interview with the Davenport Sunday Democrat eighty-one years ago, I discovered some material that once and for all should settle the question of whether Bix actually said all those fancy things that the anonymous interviewer claimed he did.

Hint: Not.

Read more here:

http://beiderbecke.typepad.com/tba/2010 ... rview.html
Any speculation as to how a copy of a Florida newspaper was involved? Since an organization (wire service?) called "NEA" was noted as the source, does this mean this article could have made its way into many newspapers across the land, and that this is not necessarily the first printing of it? Could the same article have been chosen by the Davenport newspaper's editors for publication, then "tweaked", possibly with Bix's or his family's permission (?), to turn it into an interview of him? Thanks, Brendan, for bringing this to light!
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 7th, 2010, 1:05 pm #7

Annoying. I, at least, thought, "Obvious enough to make a dog laugh." came from Bix! Damn! We don't know this guy at all!

I will add, though, that I bristle, whenever I hear people say, "Bix wasn't educated enough, to use language like that." Bull! He was a very well-read, intelligent young man. One does not need an extraordinary academic record, in order to speak intelligently. Bix loved books; both Trumbauer, and Bill Challis, commented on how well-informed Bix was, and how perfectly capable he was, of carrying on conversations, on any number of different subjects. He obviously educated himself further, after his schooling, through reading. While we're on this subject, most people in Bix's time, were lucky to have an eighth grade education, which served most of them very well, throughout their lives. He was better educated than the average person in his time, and even so, public schools certainly had a tougher curriculum, K-12, than they do now. I wouldn't be surprised if Bix, even as a high school drop-out, was better educated than most high school graduates today. He certainly seemed to have more going on, between the ears, than quite a few college graduates running around out there today.

Anyway, very interesting find, Brendan, but depressing as well. No wonder so many people made up stories, facts about, and quotes from Bix.... there's so little from which to draw a portrait .
In Pat Ciricillo's interview by Joe Giordano (published in the latest issue of the IAJRC Journal), Pat tells Joe, <span>"Now let me see what I can recall about <span class="spelle">Bix</span>, my old neighbor. The thing that I got about him is that he was a very sensitive person inside. People don't realize that he was a poetry reader; his favorites were Byron, Keats, and Shelley, since he kept their books on his desk."</span>

<span>Albert</span>
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Brendan Wolfe
Brendan Wolfe

February 7th, 2010, 2:39 pm #8

While working this weekend on the chapter of "Finding Bix" about Bix's famous interview with the Davenport Sunday Democrat eighty-one years ago, I discovered some material that once and for all should settle the question of whether Bix actually said all those fancy things that the anonymous interviewer claimed he did.

Hint: Not.

Read more here:

http://beiderbecke.typepad.com/tba/2010 ... rview.html
Regarding Jamaica's "bristling": I'm not sure that anyone -- Sudhalter, Lion, or myself -- actually said that Bix wasn't educated enough to use language like that. For myself, I simply was skeptical. His letters and his history of scholastic achievement provide no basis to believe that he would have spoken or written this way. Sure, he read. But to read is not to write. And those quotations were the words of a writer, not just a reader. I believed that to be the case, at any rate, and this discovery, I think, backs me up. Anyway, I'm not sure what the basis is for arguing that Bix, at the time of his death, was probably better educated than most high school graduates today. I'm not saying it's not true (I have no idea), only that I'm not sure what the basis for that claim is. Bix's musical ability was astounding, but that in no way translated to academic ability. And any lack of academic ability, bristling aside, in no way should be seen as a slur against Bix.

Bob's take on "Movie Shy" is new for me, and I think it fits well with my idea that the last section is actually Bix's voice.

Alberta asks how a Florida newspaper was involved. I should make clear that a Florida newspaper likely wasn't involved. The article was syndicated by NEA. The Newspaper Enterprise Association still exists, and you can read about it here:

http://www.unitedfeatures.com/?title=C:Syndicates

The Niles interview's appearance in the Florida paper is just one appearance of many, and I don't mean to imply that someone in Davenport was reading the Evening Standard. What I mean to imply is that someone in Davenport was reading some other newspaper that also picked the story up. I haven't investigated where it might have appeared.

I worked in journalism for the first part of my career, and this doesn't necessarily give me perfect insight into this, but I don't at all think that NEA would have allowed the Davenport paper to "tweak" its content in this way, let alone do so without giving credit to the syndicate. There are a number of plausible and barely plausible scenarios we can suggest here, but I do believe that the Davenport reporter lifting that article nearly whole hog is not only the most plausible but highly likely.


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Mark Mayerson
Mark Mayerson

February 7th, 2010, 2:45 pm #9

Any speculation as to how a copy of a Florida newspaper was involved? Since an organization (wire service?) called "NEA" was noted as the source, does this mean this article could have made its way into many newspapers across the land, and that this is not necessarily the first printing of it? Could the same article have been chosen by the Davenport newspaper's editors for publication, then "tweaked", possibly with Bix's or his family's permission (?), to turn it into an interview of him? Thanks, Brendan, for bringing this to light!
Newspaper Enterprise Association was a syndicate started in 1901 by two people connected with the Cleveland Press. The whole purpose of syndication was to supply content to subscribing newspapers for less money than they could have produced the content themselves.

Newspapers had clipping libraries that they referred to as morgues. Every day, copies of the paper would be cut up and filed under relevant subject headings. If a reporter had to do a story on a particular subject, the first thing the reporter would do would be to pull clippings on that subject from the morgue for background.

It's fairly certain that the nameless reporter of the Davenport Sunday Democrat, having been assigned to write something about a jazz musician, pulled whatever the paper had filed under jazz in the morgue and then used that material in the "interview" with Bix.

It should be a simple matter to see if the Democrat ran any stories or comic strips from NEA in 1928 when the Garwood article appeared. Even if the Democrat never printed the Garwood article, if they subscribed to the NEA service the article would have found its way into the Democrat's morgue.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

February 7th, 2010, 3:10 pm #10

Regarding Jamaica's "bristling": I'm not sure that anyone -- Sudhalter, Lion, or myself -- actually said that Bix wasn't educated enough to use language like that. For myself, I simply was skeptical. His letters and his history of scholastic achievement provide no basis to believe that he would have spoken or written this way. Sure, he read. But to read is not to write. And those quotations were the words of a writer, not just a reader. I believed that to be the case, at any rate, and this discovery, I think, backs me up. Anyway, I'm not sure what the basis is for arguing that Bix, at the time of his death, was probably better educated than most high school graduates today. I'm not saying it's not true (I have no idea), only that I'm not sure what the basis for that claim is. Bix's musical ability was astounding, but that in no way translated to academic ability. And any lack of academic ability, bristling aside, in no way should be seen as a slur against Bix.

Bob's take on "Movie Shy" is new for me, and I think it fits well with my idea that the last section is actually Bix's voice.

Alberta asks how a Florida newspaper was involved. I should make clear that a Florida newspaper likely wasn't involved. The article was syndicated by NEA. The Newspaper Enterprise Association still exists, and you can read about it here:

http://www.unitedfeatures.com/?title=C:Syndicates

The Niles interview's appearance in the Florida paper is just one appearance of many, and I don't mean to imply that someone in Davenport was reading the Evening Standard. What I mean to imply is that someone in Davenport was reading some other newspaper that also picked the story up. I haven't investigated where it might have appeared.

I worked in journalism for the first part of my career, and this doesn't necessarily give me perfect insight into this, but I don't at all think that NEA would have allowed the Davenport paper to "tweak" its content in this way, let alone do so without giving credit to the syndicate. There are a number of plausible and barely plausible scenarios we can suggest here, but I do believe that the Davenport reporter lifting that article nearly whole hog is not only the most plausible but highly likely.

I can't give you the exact url because the search function is not working. There were two references to Abbe Niles in one thread. I saw it yesterday, when the search function was working.

- Abbe Niles wrote the introductory chapter to W. C. Handy's "Blues: An Anthology."

- A reference to the back of the album "The Bix Beiderbecke Legend" where George Avakian writes, "For the record, the references were in magazine articles written by Abbe Niles in <em>Bookman</em> and Charles Edward Smith in <em>Symposium</em>."

The university has Handy's book and the complete set of the magazine <em>Bookman</em>. I will stop by tomorrow and see what Niles has to say about Bix, if anything, in his articles in <em>Bookman</em>. I know Niles wrote a lot about Whiteman.

Albert

Albert
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